Driving north to south on the western, Israeli side of the Dead Sea, occasional date palm, cultivated forests gave way to a scene of rock and desert, with a mountain ridge to the west. Crystallized salt lined the shores of the Dead Sea and islands within it. The next morning, we hiked up the cliffs of Masada at dawn. Masada was an ancient citadel-palace built on top of a natural plateau by King Herod, and fell into Jewish hands after his death. The Romans set siege, eventually provoking the Jews to kill themselves rather than fall to the Romans. Masada is now an archeological site and Roman camps for their siege are evident in an image below. We next headed back north to Ein Gedi, a natural oasis fed by a spring in the western cliffs.